Networking for job opportunities
For most people, initiating a conversation with strangers is a challenge. Walking up to someone can be intimidating; no matter how successful they are, remember they put their pants on one leg at a time. Conquering a reticence to network can be overcome with these few useful tips.
Almost every Chamber of Commerce has what is generally called a Business After Hours. Some are free for members, others charge a small fee for non-members. Some allow for two free events in hopes that you will join. Research your area, call the chamber to inquire. Sometimes you can find this information directly on their website.
Sporting events can also offer a prime opportunity. Golf is one terrific way to meet people in business. Attending your children’s sporting events is another. Even as a sport spectator you can meet people. After all, you already have one thing in common, you are routing for the same team.
People are everywhere and you never know who is standing nearby that can be helpful to you. Standing in line at the bank, waiting for auto service, weddings, town meetings, the places are endless. If you are a newbie at networking, start with a chamber meeting where everyone there is in the same boat. They are all looking to network.
Be ready with business cards. Even if you are in the job market, have a business card printed with your name, phone number, email address and something about what you do.
For less than $10 you can use any template at VistaPrint to create a professional business card.
Be ready with your 10-second elevator pitch. Practice in front of the mirror until this feels totally natural. Try it out on family members.
I help companies use technology to grow revenues
I build applications that xxxx
Know what you are going to wear. Business casual is best but use your judgement. If you are going to a business after hours and you’re targeting bankers, they wear suits to work, wear a suit. Use your good judgement. Don’t show up too casual because you want to look professional.
Be well rested. Eat a small meal before so that you aren’t altogether focused on the served snacks.
While you are there
Avoid alcohol and keep your hands free to shake hands and receive/pass business cards.
Choose whom you will approach. Someone standing alone is ideal or in a light group conversation. Two people talking is more difficult because each is focused on the other.
Smile when you are about to approach someone.
Simply say “Hi, I’m Joe Smith”, the return comment will likely be “I’m John Baker with XYZ bank.” “Oh, what do you do there?” Eventually the topic will turn back to you. Use your elevator pitch or a variation. The conversation has begun. Now just pay attention to how you might be able to help that person. Chat a little and ask if he minds if you follow up with him. Smile, offer your hand to shake, Nice to meet you.” and move on. Don’t keep a person tied up for 10 minutes or yourself for that matter. The object is to meet as many people as you can.
BE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN EVERY PERSON YOU SPEAK TO.
Follow up within the next day or two at the most. You can do this with a phone call, email or whatever is appropriate. Be sure that you reinforce the person’s memory of you. Continue by adding them to your newsletter list. If you add value to the person, they will remember you and a referral could very well happen.
Copyright: 123rf stockphoto – castaldostudio
Paul Hansen is the Founder and CEO of Millennium Consulting. Paul is also a board member at TechServe Alliance. Connect with Paul via LinkedIn.